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students' Series Do 

THE 

BLESSED TRINITY 

BY 

REV. C. F. BLOUNT. S.J. 




Pamphlets on the Catholic Church and 
Catholic Teaching 



Do 140. The Priestly Vocation. By Rev. T. E. Bridgett, C.SS.R. 
Do 98. An Introductory Talk on the Catholic Religion. By Rev. 

G. J. MacGillivray, M.A. 
Do 32. What the Catholic Church is and What She Teaches. 

By Rev. E. R. Hull, S.J. 
C 55. The Catholic Church and the Bible. 
S 79. The Catholic Church and the Principle of Private Property. 

By Hilaire Belloc. 
Do 97. The Catholic Doctrine of the Atonement. By Mgr. P. E. 

Hallett. 

H 50. The Church and the Catacombs. By B. F. C. Costelloe. 

H 51. The Church Catholic. By the same. 

Do 11. What Catholics Believe : A Simple Explanation of Catholic 

Doctrine. By Mother Loyola. 
Do 44. Does the Catholic Church Persecute ? By Rev. J. Keating, 

S.J. 

Do 90. Inspiration. By Rev. C. Lattey, S.J. 
Do 58. Hell. By Rev. Joseph Rickaby, S.J. 
Do 74. The Immaculate Conception. By Rev. J. B. Jaggar, S.J. 
Do 92. Original Sin. By Rev. C. C. O'Connor. 
Do 63. Personal Immortality. By Archbishop Downey. 
Do 28. Purgatory. By Bishop Graham. 
H 74. The Mass. By B. F. C. Costelloe. 
Do 75. The Real Presence. By Rev. F. Mangan, S.J. 
Do 85. The Supernatural Life. By Rev. O. R. Vassall-Phillips, 
C.SS.R. 

Do 59. Why Catholics Pray to the Blessed Virgin and A Word 
upon the Rosary. By Mgr. Canon Moyes. 

Do 70. Words of Life. (Explanations of the Catholic Faith.) 
By Rev. C. C. Martindale, S.J. 

Do 120. What is he Doing at the Altar ? By the same. 

Do 123. What you see in a Catholic Church. By the same. 



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THE BLESSED TRINITY 

By Rev. C. F. BLOUNT, S.J. 



THE DOCTRINE STATED 

Whereas the divine nature is one, one in the sense of 
unique, and absolutely incapable of being multiplied, there 
are three divine Persons, three Persons who exist in this 
single divine nature ; and each of them is truly God, 
inasmuch as each has this one divine nature as his own. 

The three Persons have been revealed to us as The Father, 
The Son, and The Holy Spirit. The Son has also been 
revealed imder the appellation of The Word. They are all 
equal and infinite in perfection, as possessing each of them 
the entire nature of God. 

There is a certain order and relation among the Three, 
an order and relation founded upon origin ; for the Son 
proceeds from the Father from all eternity by a mode of 
Procession, which is rightly and properly called Generation, 
while the Holy Spirit proceeds from both the Father and 
the Son as from one principle, by a procession which is 
sometimes called Spiration, though this term is perhaps 
more commonly used to signify the relation which, according 
to our way of regarding the matter, follows upon the 
procession. 

Such is the doctrine of the Catholic Church regarding the 
Blessed Trinity. Her theologians also teach as certain that 
the procession of the Son from the Father is to be accounted 
for in some way by the activity of the Godhead regarded as 
intdlectual, and that of the Holy Spirit by the self-same 
activity regarded as volitional. Moreover theologians 
observe that human language furnishes us with no proper 
term for the mode of the procession of the Holy Spirit, and 
that the term Spiration is metaphorical. 



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The Blessed Trinity 



THIS DOCTRINE A MYSTERY 

For the right understanding of the following pages and 
of the method followed it is essential to bear in mind that, 
according to the teaching of the Church, the dogma of the 
Blessed Trinity as stated above, is a mystery in the fullest 
sense ; that is to say, it cannot be proved by reason as can, 
for example, the existence of the Godhead : nay, it cannot 
even be proved to be possible. Indeed, if it could be shown 
by reason to be possible, it would follow that it was actually 
true ; for God certainly is all that it is possible for Him to 
be. Proof, therefore, of a mystery consists in showing that 
it is contained in revelation, in Holy Scripture for example ; 
the task of reason lies in endeavouring to make as clear as 
possible the data of revelation, and in showing that these 
data can be so explained as not to involve any evident 
contradiction. Before such a doctrine as that of the 
Blessed Trinity can be accepted by faith, reason has in some 
way to be assured that God has deigned to reveal certain 
truths to us, and that this doctrine is of the number of these 
truths. The fact of revelation in general is assumed in this 
tract, and to show that the doctrine of the Blessed Trinity 
is contained in revelation, our appeal will be made to H0I5/ 
Scripture. 

THE NOTIONS OF NATURE AND PERSON 

If as the result of some world-wide catastrophe there 
remained on earth but one man, one specimen, so to say, 
of human nature, it w^ould certainly follow that there 
remained but one human person ; but how strangely distinct 
are the two concepts of nature and person ! The nature 
is that which makes the being in question to be of a certain 
kind, to be spiritual, for example, or material, animate or 
inanimate, rational or non-rational, to have certain activi- 
ties, to be liable to certain influences. The Personality on 
the other hand adds nothing to the nature that we can 
describe or classify, and yet the Person is regarded as 
dominating, possessing, using the nature as his very own. 



l^he Blessed Trinity 



3 



I, the person, speak of the nature as mine ; it is my body, ' 
my soul, and yet what is the / but soul and body, and 
what is left if both soul and body are taken away ? Or 
again, whatever may be the changes that take place in my 
body or in my soul, the person, the /, remains the same, 
identically the same, notwithstanding the fact that I 
cannot say what the Person is, apart from and in addition 
to the changed body and soul. Is there any sense in the 
wish that / had been born a century earlier than I was ? 
in what sense would it have been the same person ? It is 
little wonder that philosophers have put forward one theory 
after another as to what it is precisely that constitutes 
personaUty as such. With these theories we need not 
trouble ourselves : our philosophy in these pages is that of 
ordinary language ; and this compels us to admit some kind 
of distinction between the nature, which places the being in 
a certain class and makes it to be of a certain kind, and the 
person who exists as a distinct being in the nature, who rules, 
possesses, and acts through the nature that belongs to him. 

NATURE AND PERSON IN GOD 

There is but one God. Our direct assertion here is, that 
the divine nature is numerically one. Uncaused, self- 
existent being not ovXy is, but can be only one ; there cannot 
be two distinct cases of such being. Sound, catholic 
philosophy is agreed and positive on this point. Moreover, 
self-existent being must be absolutely simple, i.e., not made 
up of really distinct parts ; it must be all-perfect, infinite, 
just all that pure being can possibly be. It cannot be 
limited or conditioned in any way by time and space ; it 
must be spiritual, supremely active by way of intellect and 
will, free, omnipotent. Such in general is the nature of the 
one self-existent being, of God. This nature is unique, and 
this is what we mean directly by saying that there is and 
can be only one God. Reason can assure itself of this, and 
revelation has from the first urged it and insisted on it. 
Indirectly and by way of consequence reason would 
naturally regard this one God as one, not only in nature but 



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The Blessed Trinity 



also in person ; reason, if left to itself, would easily take it for 
granted that the personahty is as much one as the nature. 
But in so doing, reason does not really see its inference to be 
evident. To take the nature of God, such as reason declares 
it to be, and then to multiply it, to declare that this nature 
exists twice over, this indeed would be for reason to con- 
tradict itself. Or again, to say that God belongs to those 
beings to whom the word Person cannot possibly be apphed 
at all, — this would be contradiction, it would be to deny 
perfection to the all-perfect. But as to the precise shape, 
so to say, which personality takes in the infinite being, as to 
whether it is as impossible that there should be more than 
one Person, as that there should be more than one Godhead, 
or God-nature, reason, the more it examines the question, 
recognises the more clearly, that the data are wanting for an 
evident judgement. Three Persons in God, utterly mysteri- 
ous though the idea may be, is yet no self-evident contra- 
diction, any more than is the idea of a single person truly 
possessing and acting through two distinct natures. We 
simply cannot formulate the relation between nature and 
personality with sufiicient precision, as to decide on the 
possibility or impcssibiUty of either of these hypotheses. 
As a matter of fact the two chief mysteries of Christianity 
turn upon this connection of Person and Nature. Reason 
must acknowledge its inability to come to a final decision, 
and must bow to God's own declaration and revelation. 

What does revelation teach in regard to Person in God ? 
in regard to the number of Persons, for this is our first and 
immediate inquiry ? It teaches that while there is but one 
God, one God-nature, in this one God, there are three 
distinct persons. 

THE DISTINCTION OF PERSONS 

IN HOLY SCRIPTURE 

Although indeed there are some indications, some hints, 
as we may say, in the Old Testament of a distinction of 
Persons in the Godhead, yet speaking generally Almighty 
God was content before the time of Christ to make Himself 



The Blessed Trinity 



5 



known as One, a trae though incomplete revelation of the 
divine being. Nor is it necessary to enter here upon any proof 
that the singleness of God, in the sense already explained, 
has always been taught in revealed religion and in the 
Church of Christ. This being supposed, we may proceed 
at once to inquire what Christian revelation teaches us in 
regard to a distinction of Persons in God. The New Testa- 
ment leaves us in no doubt whatever that we are being 
instructed to distinguish Three Persons, and three only, 
from all others, and to regard them all three, as truly and 
equally divine, as possessing each of them the whole divine 
nature, and therefore as being each of them truly and fully 
God. 

THREE PERSONS CLEARLY INDICATED IN 

THE NEW TESTAMENT 

And first, that three persons are brought before us 
constantly in the closest connection with one another, and 
with the one, true God, is certainly evident enough. In 
Matt, xxviii. 19, we have Our Lord instructing His Apostles 
to go forth and teach all nations, baptizing them in the 
name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost." 
There can be no doubt that the Father is God, and the other 
two persons mentioned are certainly brought into the 
closest connection with Him, brought under the one name, 
whatever may be the exact sense to be given to this word. 
In John xiv. 26, Our Lord says to His Apostles : The 
Paraclete, the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in 
my name. He will teach you all things, and bring all 
things to your mind." Here are the same three persons, 
the Father, the Holy Ghost, and the person who is speaking. 
This last is the Jesus of the Gospels who is judged worthy of 
death by the Jewish Sanhedrin for declaring Himself to be 
verily the Son of God. In 2 Cor. xiii. 13, St Paul writes : 
" The grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and the charity of 
God, and the communication of the Holy Ghost be with you 
all." Evidently the same three Persons are mentioned, the 
Son being put in the first place, and the Father being styled 



6 



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God, in accordance with a form of speech which need not be 
dealt with here, inasmuch as we are only insisting for the 
moment on the fact that the two other Persons are brought 
into the closest connection with the one God. In 1 Pet. i. 2, 
we read : According to the foreknowledge of God the 
Father, unto the sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience 
and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ." Here again, 
in still another order, is mention of the same three Persons 
as in the former texts. As surely then as we are taught to 
beUeve the Father to be God, so surely are we guided to 
believe in two other Persons, connected in the closest way 
with God, and yet truly distinct from the Father. The one 
text (John xiv. 26) Whom the Father will send in my 
name,'' is conclusive as to the true distinction of the three. 

THE DIVINITY OF EACH CLEARLY REVEALED 

But there now arises the further question : Are these 
three Persons all truly and equally divine ? Is it simply 
true to say of each that He is God, that He is the one true 
God, not as excluding the other two, but as attributing to 
Him in aU its fulness the one divine nature of God ? Is 
each of these Persons as truly and perfectly (to say the 
least) identified with the unique nature of God, as /, the 
human person, am identified with my own nature ? 

What is the alternative to this afhrmation, that each is 
true God ? The nature of God is, we know, absolutely 
simple and indivisible ; it cannot be shared among the 
Persons, so that each shall possess only a part. What in 
truth is the nature belonging to any one of these three 
Persons, if it be not the simple, unique nature of God ? 
It could not be a self-existent nature, for there can be 
no self-existent nature besides the one divine nature. It 
would be, then, a created nature ; the Son and the Holy 
Ghost would be mere creatures, brought out of nothing by 
the one omnipotent God, with nothing whatever in common 
with Him, both infinitely beneath Him in dignity, power, 
perfection. And yet we must suppose that in the revela- 
tion God has made of Himself to us. He has put forward 



The Blessed Trinity 



7 



these two in such a way as to lead to the consequences which 
have actually followed among the believers in this revela- 
tion. The only conclusion to be drawn would be that the 
Christian revelation is the work rather of the father of lies 
than of the God of truth. 

DIRECT PROOF THAT THE HOLY GHOST IS GOD 

As for direct and positive proof of the Divinity of the 
Son and of the Holy Ghost, it will hardly be questioned that 
if either is shown by direct testimony of Holy Scripture 
to be truly God, the other cannot be of an inferior nature. 
The direct proof for the divinity of the Son is nothing but 
the proof of the divinity of Jesus Christ. It would seem 
out of place to develop any such proof in this short treatise 
on the Blessed Trinity, and the reader may be referred to 
other pamphlets.^ The divinity of Jesus Christ is indeed 
a fundamental doctrine of Christianity, and might be taken 
for granted here. It may not be out of place, however, to 
devote a little of our space to the proof of the divinity of the 
Holy Spirit, and thus supply the defect of any direct argu- 
ment for that of the Son. Here the proof is not complicated 
as in the case of Jesus Christ, by the assumption of a created 
nature. The Holy Ghost, as we have already shown, is a 
distinct Person, distinct from the Father, who is certainly 
God : is this distinct Person as truly God as the Father 
Himself ? 

There are in the first place the remarkable words of Our 
Lord (Matt. xii. 32) : " Whosoever shall speak a word 
against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him ; but he 
that shall speak against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be 
forgiven him, neither in this world nor in the world to come.'' 
We may well ask what possible meaning such words can 
have on the supposition that the Holy Ghost is a mere 
creature. In Acts v. 3, 4 we have St Peter speaking to 
Ananias : Ananias, why hath Satan tempted thy heart 
that thou shouldst he to the Holy Ghost ? . . . Thou hast 

^ e.g., The Godhead of Christ by Hugh Pope, O.P. ; The Doctrinal 
Witness of the Fourth Gospel by V. McNabb, O.P.— C.T.S. 



8 



The Blessed Trinity 



not lied to men but to God/' St Paul, 1 Cor. iii. 16, 
writes : Know you not that you are the temple of God, and 
that the Spirit of God dwelleth within you ? The Spirit of 
God is surely no mere created person, but one altogether 
divine. It is the Holy Spirit that is to abide with the 
Apostles and teach them all truth (John xiv. 16, 26), in 
whose power the Apostles are to remit sin (John xx. 22), 
nay, to whom Christ Himself attributes his power to drive 
out the evil spirits. It would be intelligible to argue that 
the Holy Spirit is not a distinct Person, but is simply a 
name by which to refer to the one, pure Spirit, who is God ; 
but uninteUigible to admit that He is a distinct Person, as 
we have shown must be admitted, and yet a mere creature. 

An indirect argument follows, as we have noted for the 
divinity of the Son : besides the Father, a second of these 
three Persons who are conjoined in so intimate a way in the 
Christian revelation, is shown to be truly divine : there is 
no other possible conclusion but that the remaining Person, 
the Son, the one with whom Jesus Christ is identified, is 
also divine. 

There are then in God three distinct Persons, the Father, 
the Son, the Holy Ghost : the Father is God, the Son is God, 
the Holy Ghost is God. 

THE NAMES, AND PERFECT EQUALITY OF THE 
THREE PERSONS 

So far we have dealt with the first of the three paragraphs 
in which the doctrine of the Blessed Trinity was briefly 
stated in the first section of this pamphlet. If the reader 
will look back at the second paragraph, he will see that it 
can be left without much proof or comment. It affirms 
that the Three Persons have been revealed to us under the 
names of The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit. This 
is clear from what has already been said. Moreover it 
states that the Son has been revealed also under the 
appellation of The Word. This too is clear from the opening 
verses of St John's Gospel, in which we are told that the 
Word was with God in the beginning, was God (v.l), became 



The Blessed Trinity 



9 



flesh (v. 14), and is the only-begotten Son, who is in the 
bosom of the Father (v. 18). It will perhaps be advisable 
to recur to this point later on. Lastly, the perfect equality 
and infinite perfection of each person is affirmed, as resulting 
from the fact that each possesses the entire and infinitely 
perfect nature of God. 

THE ORDER EXISTING BETWEEN THE DIVINE 
PERSONS 

We have next to examine the doctrine of the third 
paragraph, and to see what revelation teaches as to the 
relations in which the Three Persons stand to one another, 
relations, as there stated, of origin, or, to use the term 
which theology has taken over from Holy Scripture, of 
" Procession." As in the treatment of the first paragraph 
concerning Nature and Person, we shall anticipate the con- 
tradictions that suggest themselves to the mind as implied 
in the doctrine, and then develop the Scriptural proof of 
the doctrine. This appears to be the most suitable way to 
proceed in the case of a doctrine so strictly mysterious as 
that of the Blessed Trinity. 

THE NOTIONS OF ORIGIN AND PROCESSION 
CONTRASTED WITH THOSE OF CAUSE AND 
PRODUCTION 

Is there not an apparent contradiction impUed in attribut- 
ing origin or procession to a divine Person ? Not, we 
answer, the evident contradiction that there is in supposing 
anything produced or caused in God. Nor is it at all evidently 
contradictory to deny production and true causality, 
while affirming origin and procession. If we compare the 
two pairs of words, it becomes clear that the word cause 
signifies more expressly an activity that brings about an 
effect distinct in its very being from its cause ; whereas the 
word origin suggests only the idea of a relation between two 
terms in virtue of which the one finds its principle and 



10 



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explanation in the other. The idea of origin is a very wide 
and general one. It may be connected with place, as when 
we say that a river has its source or origin in a certain range 
of hills ; though even here it is not merely a relation of 
place, inasmuch as the hills have a certain function to 
exercise in giving rise to the river. Yet no one would say 
that the hiUs were the cause of the river. Again, in 
mathematics the word origin is used to signify a point from 
w^hich measurement or motion commences ; here again no 
one would say that the point is the cause of the motion. 
Not every origin then is the cause of that which is related to 
it as to its origin. Again, what is produced is regarded as 
being made to be what it was not before ; there is a transi- 
tion from non-being to being. But procession does not 
necessarily imply any such transition. In this pamphlet 
as complete, there is a certain procession of thought 
running through the whole, but no part is produced by any 
other part. When therefore we say that in God, the Son 
proceeds from the Father, we are not affirming the evident 
contradiction that there has been productive action on the 
part of the First Person, resulting in the coming into being 
of the Second Person, but only a mysterious relation of 
origin between the one Person and the other. 

THE NOTION OF RELATION 

To confine our attention for purposes of explanation and 
illustration to the two Persons, the Father and the Son, we 
say that a relation of origin exists between the Father and 
the Son. When we reflect upon this statement, we are 
inclined to imagine (somewhat as from oneness of nature, 
w^e are inclined to imagine oneness of Person) that some- 
thing has taken place within the Godhead, which constitutes 
the First Person Father, and the Second Person Son, and 
that the relation attaches itself to the two Persons as 
already constituted. But if this way of imagining the 
matter were the true and correct way, it would follow that 
Father and Son were distinguished from each other pre- 
viously (previously at least in order of nature if not of 



The Blessed Trinity 



11 



time) to any relation existing between them, and therefore 
by something not merely relative in its nature, but by 
something absolute ; and if by something absolute, then 
certainly by something which renders the perfection of the 
Father different from, if not greater than, the perfection of 
the Son. So we should be led straight to the conclusion 
that neither person could be infinite in perfection. 

But it is to be carefully noticed that although the notion 
of a relation is usually that of something pertaining to a 
thing fully constituted in its own proper and substantial 
perfection and being, and therefore of something accidental 
to, and distinct from the substantial being which has the 
relation or is related, yet that the notion of relation 
precisely as such, is that of regarding something else, and so 
really prescinds as such from inhering in and being added 
to the substance. Why should not the relation be subsis- 
tent ? that is to say, why should it not be really the 
substance itself, not of course precisely as substance or as 
existing in its own absolute right, but as regarding some- 
thing else ? The notion of relation is therefore not contra- 
dicted or destroyed, if we suppose the divine substance to 
identify with itself relative perfection, no less than it 
identifies with itself all pure absolute perfection. Of course 
the notions of substance and relation are distinct, quite 
distinct ; but so are those of intellect and will : and yet 
reason itself assures us that intellect and will cannot be 
really and objectively distinct things in God, but must be 
both identical with the one simple substance of the God- 
head. And so the simple divine Essence is identically 
substantial perfection and relative perfection, nothwith- 
standing that these two kinds of perfection are quite 
distinct as far as our notions are concerned. Thus it appears 
that we need not, nay we must not regard the relation of 
Paternity as coming upon and added to the Father, as 
though the First Person were previously constituted Father, 
and consequently put on a relation to the Son ; but rather 
we must consider the Father as constituted Father by the 
subsistent relation itself, because the relation is a subsistent 



12 



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relation. The divine Essence as identified with the relation 
of Paternity is the Father, and so for the other Persons. 
Thus we seem to escape the contradiction of distinguishing 
Father from Son by the existence of any absolute perfection 
in the one which does not exist in the other. And if it be 
still further urged that at least the two Persons differ in the 
relation which constitutes them as Persons, we answer, 
somewhat as in regard to Personality in general, that there 
is no evident contradiction in saying that they differ 
precisely by the opposition, as such, of their mutual 
relations. Strikingly indeed has this point been made by 
the Council of Florence in the Decretiim pro Jacobitis, 
where we read in regard to the Blessed Trinity : Omnia 
sunt unum ubi non obviat relationis oppositio ; Everything 
in the Trinity is one, except where the opposition of relation 
interferes. The Council does not say : except v/here the 
relation interferes ; but, except where the opposition of 
relation interferes. Reflection upon this dictum of the 
Council will not indeed render the mystery evidently 
possible, but will serve to deepen our assurance that it is 
not evidently impossible. 

THE PROCESSION OF THE SECOND PERSON 
PROVED {a) FROM THE NAME SON 

We may now proceed to the proof of the third paragraph 
of our opening statement of doctrine. 

It is revealed doctrine that the Second Person of the 
Trinity proceeds from the First, for He is Son, true Son 
(Rom. viii. 32), only begotten Son of the Father (John i. 18). 
It is not as Incarnate only that He is Son ; but the Divine 
Person as such, who became Incarnate, is Son from all 
eternity within the Godhead, Indeed, were it as man only 
that Christ is to be held Son of God, then of course He 
would not be the true and proper Son at all. He would 
not be truly begotten of the Father ; for a son in the full 
sense must be of the same nature as his father, and derive 
that nature from his father. But Christ is revealed to us 
as true Son, and therefore He is Son precisely in virtue of 



The Blessed Trinity 



13 



his divine nature, being begotten of the Father from all 
eternity. 

[h) FROM THE NAME ''WORD'' 

Further, the Son has also been revealed to us as the 
Word ; and from this appellation theologians rightly 
conclude, — not, be it noted, that the generation of the Son 
is an action of the divine intellect, but — that the fact that 
in the one God there are these two Persons related to each 
other as Father and Son, finds its ultimate reason in the 
intellectual activity of the divine nature. In ordinary 
language, by the word we understand usually that which is 
uttered by the bodily organs of speech, as when we utter 
the word God ; but this outwardly uttered word is a sign of 
the intellectually and spiritually expressed concept or idea, 
of the mental word : and of course it is rather in this latter 
sense that the second Person is called the Word. He is 
related to the Father in some way analogous to that in which 
the concept in our mind is related to the mind which con- 
ceives it, and from which it proceeds. The relation of the 
Second Person to the First is, as it were, that of the Godhead 
intellectually expressed, to the same Godhead thus express- 
ing and adequately uttering Himself. 

THIS PROCESSION IS TRUE GENERATION 

This revelation of the Son as the Word, besides leading 
the theologian to refer the procession of the Second Person 
to the intellectual life of the Godhead, also throws light 
upon the manner of procession, which is revealed as 
generation in the fullest sense of the word. For what is 
generation ? What is the idea for the expression of which 
this word generation is the proper one ? It seems to include 
three elements : (1) a living being proceeding from another 
living being, (2) so proceeding that the very substance of 
the parent goes to form the substance of the offspring, 
(3) proceeding by virtue of a process that tends to issue in 
a likeness between the two, a likeness because of the nature 
belonging to each. Now the Second Person of the Trinity 
is a living being, as is evident, and proceeds from one who 



14 



The Blessed Trinity 



also has life in Himself ; moreover, the very substantial 
nature of the Father is communicated to the Son, both being 
of the very same nature and substance ; and lastly, the 
activity which accounts for the fact of there being a 
Second Person in God is, as the appellation Word of God 
implies, an intellectual activity, an activity whose whole 
tendency is towards likeness, towards an image, likeness of 
the concept to that of which it is the concept, likeness of the 
mental word to that v/hich it expresses. These three 
elements, then, in the idea of generation, find their fullest 
realisation, reach their limit of perfection, in the generation 
of the Second Person of the Trinity by the First. 

THE PROCESSION OF THE HOLY GHOST FROM 
THE FATHER AND THE SON 

The Catholic faith teaches also the procession of the 
Third Person from both the Father and the Son. At the 
time of the Council of Constantinople in A.D. 381, certain 
heretics were denying the divinity of the Third Person, and 
were making this Person depend directly from the Second 
Person alone. Accordingly the Council replied by so 
describing the Holy Spirit as to leave no doubt of His true 
divinity, and by affirming explicitly the procession from the 
Father. Later on, error took a different shape, and the 
procession of the Holy Spirit from the Son as well as from 
the Father came to be explicitly professed in the Creed. 
There is evidence enough in the writings of both Greek and 
Latin Fathers to show that this was the true primitive 
teaching of the whole Church, and it finds solid foundation 
in the words of Holy Scripture itself. In John xvi. 14, 
Our Lord says of the Holy Spirit : He shall glorify me, 
because He shall receive of mine and shall show it to you." 
And He explains His own words in the following verse : 
*'A11 things whatsoever the Father hath are mine. Therefore 
I said that He shaU receive of mine.'' The future tense, 
" He shall receive,'' creates no difficulty ; that which takes 
place eternally within the Godhead may be described in the 
past, present or future, according as it is connected in some 



The Blessed Trinity 



15 



way with what belongs to these differences of time in 
temporal events. Our Lord's hearers must all have felt 
instinctively that everything must find its ultimate origin 
in the Father, and accordingly that the Holy Spirit, like the 
Son, must receive all from the Father. But Our Lord, 
Himself the Son and Second Person of the Trinity, declares 
that the Holy Spirit receives of what is His, because all 
that the Father has (except of course to be Father and 
First Person) is His also. So the Holy Spirit receives from 
both Father and Son what is common to both, viz., the 
whole divine nature and substance ; in other words He 
proceeds as a divine person from both Father and Son. 

THE NAME LOVE AS PROPER TO THE HOLY 

SPIRIT 

In the first section of this pamphlet it was given as the 
teaching of theologians that, as the Procession of the Son 
from the Father is to be accounted for in some way by the 
activity of the Godhead regarded as intellectual, so the 
procession of the Holy Spirit is to be accounted for by the 
self-same activity regarded as volitional. Hence a name 
proper to the Holy Spirit corresponding to that of Word 
for the Son, i.e., the name Love. As the Son is the Word 
of the Father, so the Holy Spirit is the Love of Father and 
Son ; as the Son is the uttered or conceived Word, so the 
Holy Spirit is the breathed-forth Love. It is true that the 
word Love seems to belong rather to the activity that 
breathes-forth, so to say, than to the term of such activity ; 
but this is but an instance of the general lack of proper 
words to express what belongs to volitional activity, as 
compared with intellectual activity. 

CONCLUSION 

Thus we have given some explanation of the doctrine 
stated in our first section, shown how its various headings 
are contained in Holy Scripture, and as far as the limits 
assigned to such a pamphlet as this will allow, we have 
shown that mysterious as the doctrine certainly is, it does 



16 



The Blessed Trinity 



not imply anything repugnant to right reason. There are 
indeed other aspects of the subject that one is reluctant to 
pass over in silence even in the most elementary treatment ; 
let us hope they may find a place in some future tract of 
this series. 

We close with the majestic words of the Preface of the 
Mass for the feast of the Blessed Trinity, words which will 
perhaps contain a fuller significance for those to whom the 
preceding pages have served as a first introduction to a 
systematic consideration of the dogma : 

''It is truly meet and just, right and available unto 
salvation that we should at all times and in all places give 
thanks unto Thee, O holy Lord, Father Almighty, ever- 
lasting God : who with thine only begotten Son and the 
Holy Ghost art one God, one Lord : not in the Oneness of 
a single person, but in the Trinity of one substance. For 
that which we believe from thy revelation concerning thy 
glory, that same we believe of thy Son, that same of the Holy 
Ghost, without difference or separation. So that in 
confessing the true and everlasting Godhead, we shall adore 
distinction in persons, oneness in being, equaUty in majesty ; 
which Angels and Archangels, the Cherubim too and the 
Seraphim do praise ; day by day they cease not to cry out, 
saying as with one voice : Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of 
hosts." 



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